The islet of Bergeggi
The stretch of coast between Bergeggi and Spotorno has a very varied morphology; it alternates beaches and short promontories with sheer cliffs, where the sea has dug small caves. Opposite, not far from the mainland, stands the small island of Bergeggi,a suggestive cone of limestone rock that reaches 53 meters above sea level.
It seems that in ancient times the island was connected to the coast by a narrow rocky tongue, then demolished by the wave motion. Today it is rocky and steep, covered only in part by Mediterranean vegetation. This island preserves remarkable historical and archaeological evidence. On its top there are remains of military and religious buildings, dating back to different eras. The oldest buildings were most likely erected in late Roman times.
At the highest point of the island are preserved the bases of a massive cylindrical construction, perhaps a watchtower or a lighthouse erected in function of the nearby port of Vada Sabatia (the current Vado Ligure). In the Middle Ages the islet of Bergeggi, similarly to the other small Ligurian islands, was the seat for a long time of Monastic communities. This is testified by the modest ruins of a small early Christian church of the V-VI century and the most conspicuous of a Romanesque building with two naves of the eleventh century. This last building attracts our attention because it is St. Eugene.
EUGENIO, saint, venerated in NOLI.
Local Ligurian tradition believes that Eugene was one of the African bishops exiled at the end of the century. V. during the vandal persecution. Held for some time in Corsica. Eugene would have landed in Liguria in the area of Vado and Savona, would have preached the Gospel in the region and, dead, would have been buried in the small island of Liguria, today known as Bergeggi.
The first historical document that recalls this Eugene is a diploma with which the emperor Otto III, at the request of the bishop of Savona (Bernardo), in 998 confirmed his assets to the Savona Church, including: "ecclesiam sancti Eugenii ubi eius corpus humatum (inhumed) recquiescit ".(the church of St. Eugene, where his buried body (inhumed) rests.)
Here the same bishop Bernardo erected a monastery which he entrusted to the Benedictines of Lerinesi (Isle of Lèrins in front of Cannes - FR). which remained on the island until around 1232.
After the monks left, the building fell into disrepair and Eugene's body was moved to nearby Noli, first in the church of S. Paragono and, in 1602, in the Cathedral.
Eugene was venerated as the patron saint of the tiny Maritime Republic of Noli and his feast, celebrated on the second Sunday of July, is characterized by great folkloristic events.
It is not possible to say precisely who this Eugene actually was. Popular belief and the liturgy of the diocese of Noli identified him with the eponymous bishop of Carthage; but this claim was already fought by an anonymous writer of the century. XII. who claimed that Eugene was a monk. Probably, therefore, it is an obscure Eugene of Bergeggi later confused with the bishop of Carthage.
Bibliotheca Sanctorum, John XXIII Institute, Pontifical Lateran University, 1961. Vol. 5 (1964), p. 194.
A copy of this work, which has already been updated to 16 vol., Is in our Monastery.
Historical notes also gleaned from the writings of the Benedictine historian P. Gregorio Penco
The Vandals conquer North Africa in the first half of the 5th century. (429-440).
According to a tradition, Eugene, Vindemiale and Fiorenzo, African bishops, were exiled (in 484) to Corsica by the vandal king Unirico, who was of the Aryan religion.
Fiorenzo dies on the island, the others reached the Savona area. Here Eugene dedicated himself to the evangelization of the inhabitants of the mainland opposite the island and of the Vado area.
Eugene died on the island of Bergeggi in 505, where he was buried.
The small island, just 3ha of surface and reaches 53 m. above sea level, it had a fresh water vein.
For this reason it was inhabited by man at least since the Neolithic, as evidenced by excavations carried out.
Until the last century there was still a well of drinking water.It was buried because the water no longer complied with current hygiene standards.
This well was located near the small pier with a concrete ladder, which can be seen from the opposite promontory of Punta Maiolo (Torre del Mare).
With the decline of the Western Roman Empire and under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, an oriental type of hermit monastic life flourished on the islands of Liguria (such as in San Lorenzo di Varigotti).
An indication of the Byzantine influence can still be found in the Finale area in the devotion to St. Anthony the Abbot, father of Eastern monasticism, (see the Chapel of St. Anthony the Abbot, in Monte, above Finalpia).
In the West the Benedictine Rule was established in the sec. VIII-IX.
Before, there were various types of mixed rules: Abbey of S. Onorato (Lérins, France), Abbey of S. Martino di Tours (Gallinara, Italy), Abbey of S. Colombano (Bobbio).
Abbey of S. Eugenio